Lethbridge family airs WestJet woes after flight cancellation; warns others to be diligent
“From my perspective, it's a demand thing that was within their control and so there should be no reason why they can't just refund the money."
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Lights, Camera, Rabbi: For limelight-loving Yossi Sapirman, the show must goes on, even during COVID
Yossi Sapirman’s unlikely path to being one of Toronto’s most unconventional rabbis didn’t begin in New Jersey, where he was born into an ultra-Orthodox family, but in Toronto’s Greektown, where he opened a bike shop. Nearly three decades later, he is rewriting the script again to meet the challenges of a pandemic, planning a high holidays broadcast Saturday that includes a Grammy-winning singer, multiple cameras, and a dramatic drone entrance. Sapirman, 52, is a fantastical blend of P.T. Barnum and Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof. He favours black, with a long greying beard that evokes the director Orson Welles. He loves rap (and opera) and the speed rush of his 707 horsepower Dodge Hellcat muscle car. I first met Rabbi Yossi in 2014, while he was officiating at the bat mitzvah for the granddaughter of the late, legendary criminal lawyer Eddie Greenspan. He blended the ancient traditions and scriptures with modernity and schmoozing, leaving the pulpit, wandering throughout the congregation, mingling. Sapirman was one of nine children, to a family that claims lineage to rabbinical royalty, dating back over 500 years. He moved to Toronto in 1973 at the age of 5. As he grew up, he was drawn to the rich traditions of Judaism, but its severity, and his father’s demands to maintain the rigidity of orthodoxy, tortured him. At the age of 15, amidst enormous tension between father and son, Sapirman moved out and rented a basement apartment, earning money fixing appliances and later opening his own bike shop. He immersed himself in Jewish studies at night, determined to discover a mix of antiquity with modern theology. If he couldn’t find it, he would invent it. Clad in grease-covered overalls, Sapirman developed a reputation as the somewhat cool, go-to guy for spiritual advice, modern thinking and bike repairs. Although not yet ordained, he was invited to lead a small Jewish congregation in the back of a nearby Greek restaurant, assured that he could run the service his way. His congregation ultimately found him too progressive and he left. Sapirman realized that without formal rabbinical credentials, he would never succeed in having his unconventional approach accepted, so he went to Israel to study. He returned to Toronto in 1986 as an ordained rabbi. All he needed was a congregation. In the meantime, he tutored Jewish children, including preparing future actor Daniel Levy for his bar mitzvah. Sapirman’s first prime time gig was as a rabbi for an orthodox synagogue in Peterborough, but the older congregants again resisted a modern style that included women playing a role and actually touching the Holy Scriptures. A short time later, when a fading synagogue with a dwindling congregation in North Toronto asked to meet with him, he pitched hard, telling them he was their messiah. Facing a dire situation that included diminishing revenue and very few alternate candidates, the Beth Torah elders rolled the dice. He immediately modernized the service, engaged younger audiences with diverse programming and high-profile speakers, added live music — like inviting the Toronto Symphony to play during the high holidays. He involved women in all of the rituals, creating a highly immersive experience. Suddenly, this messiah was a superstar. The temple grew from 100 families to 500, along with a waiting list. Some felt he had gone too far, but there was no disputing his success. Sapirman drew crowds that rewarded him with significant donations to fund a massive renovation to fit his growing flock. The result was a brightly lit modern sanctuary that matched his personality, complete with a thrust stage inspired by the Stratford Festival that allows him to engage dramatically with his congregation. When COVID-19 hit, he had already been experimenting with livestreaming. He had found the use of a single camera limiting and a convoluted distraction and set to work on a new plan to prepare for the impending closure caused by the virus hit. Fuelled by his determination that spirituality should not be experienced in isolation, he transformed his synagogue into a television studio with six HD cameras and a black box studio to film and edit socially distanced interviews and learning sessions. He hired an experienced technical crew to operate from within a safe, state-of-the-art control booth and spent the last six months producing content and warming up for the main event; the upcoming Jewish high holidays. So while concerts are cancelled and movie theatres are struggling, Sapirman has pre-sold his high holidays broadcast to 95% of his congregation and potentially his largest audience ever through a professionally produced stream. He will have a mix of live and taped segments featuring custom soundtracks, large choirs filmed by multiple cameras, and a dramatic entrance to ensure congregants feel they are still entering the sanctuary. Above all, he promises an earth-shaking live sermon to help congregants make sense of this agonizing moment. For Yossi Sapirman, the show must go on. — Barry Avrich is an advertising executive and filmmaker (Prosecuting Evil, Made You Look).
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Shaping Saskatchewan: Lisa Thomaidis
Lisa Thomaidis has an impressive coaching career and says that has a leader, actions speak louder than words.
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Coronavirus: Londoners and off-campus students react to spike in Western University cases
Since Sept. 11, 39 cases have been reported among students at Western University.
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‘None of us are superhuman,’ says PHAC president as she steps down amid pandemic
Tina Namiesniowski, who has been in the job only since May 2019, sent a letter to staff on Friday to say months of responding to the global health crisis has taken a personal toll on many people.
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Private workplaces are a big and dangerous gap in mandatory mask orders, expert says
Some of Canada’s biggest COVID-19 outbreaks have happened in private businesses, where it is up to owners to decide who needs to cover their faces.
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A Conversation w Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy
Blue Rodeo's Jim Cuddy chats about his upcoming Peterborough show and the incredibly talented Jimmy Bowskill of The Sheepdogs
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Evaluate skills in unexpected COVID-19 career shifts, Winnipeg expert says
"If you have a positive attitude and what I call a learning attitude, at any age, you can learn something new."
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Terry Fox cancer research crusader carries on after own battle with disease
Montrealer Les Hay is hoping to reach his goal of raising $500,000 for the Terry Fox Foundation.
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Gregor Chisholm: The Blue Jays are big winners in an MLB playoff format that needs to change
There are playoff teams and then there are 2020 playoff teams. The Jays fall into the second category because, as positive as this season has been, it’s blatantly obvious they have a lot of work to do before they can hang with upper-echelon rivals, Gregor Chisholm writes.
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Regina Cat Rescue converts coolers into shelters for feral felines in the city
Volunteers outfitted medical-grade coolers with fleece and pillows that will be distributed to 30 cat colonies in Regina.
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Islanders rally to help community rocked by disappearance of P.E.I. teens at sea
At a makeshift headquarters at a community centre in Northport, near the spot where the two boys went missing, Wendy McNeill said she’s been overwhelmed and amazed by the support.
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Trump Claims Canada Wants Border Reopened. Canadians Disagree.
Canada and the United States announced this week that restrictions on non-essential border travel would remain in place until at least Oct. 21, with public safety minister Bill Blair saying the feds will continue to make the best decision to “keep Canadians safe.”But according to U.S. President Donald Trump, Canadians actually want the border reopened as soon as possible. During remarks to reporters on Friday, Trump claimed Canada is actually pushing to reopen the border, despite absolutely no evidence to suggest that.“We’re looking at the border with Canada. Canada would like it open, and you know we want to get back to normal business,” Trump said.Canadians, for the record, disagree.@realDonaldTrump just thought I’d let you know that the majority of Canadians support closure of the US/Canada border until the US has the Covid pandemic under control.— kaminiskeg (@gglloyd) September 18, 2020Ummmm...no offence, as I love my friends and family from the US, but no there is no push from Canada to broadly open the border. Sorry ⁦@realDonaldTrump⁩ , you’re lying once again https://t.co/dTeuhEzjv1— CanadianAgainstTrump (@CdnAgainstTrump) September 18, 2020@realDonaldTrump Canada doesn't want the border open till you know how to contain the COVID-19 in your own country president human Orangutan— Kick FM (@Kickfm2016) September 18, 2020Trump is saying Canada wants to open our border to Americans. That is lie.I can confidently speak for all Canadians when I say, I’m sorry but: pic.twitter.com/Xj78rjojjT— TotalRandomMama (@TotalRandomMama) September 18, 2020Well now I'm sure Canadians support the border closure. Donald Trump says we want it open.
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Alberta Health Services declares COVID-19 outbreak over at Edmonton’s Good Samaritan Southgate Care Centre
An outbreak of COVID-19 that began at an Edmonton care centre in June has been declared over by Alberta Health Services. 
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2 women charged after 7 animals seized from southeast Calgary home
On Sept. 15, police were called to a residence on Erin Meadow Close S.E., after neighbours reported hearing animals inside the home, but had not seen the residents in several days.
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7 confirmed cases of E. coli at Valens Lake
The beach at Valens Lake Conservation Area is closed as of Friday to mitigate any further exposure to the bacteria.
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Montreal to reflect on the idea of reallocating police budget as activists call for action
Montreal's Commission on Finances and Administration will explore the reallocation of money in the Montreal police's budget to other services for city residents.
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Stella’s closing restaurant at Winnipeg airport citing drop in customers due to coronavirus
The airport eatery is slated to shut Oct. 16 and will be the second Stella's location to close since coronavirus arrived in Manitoba in March.
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Government plans to remove offensive name from mountain in Banff National Park
The federal government says the offensive name of Stoney Squaw Mountain and trail has been a concern for Indigenous groups and Parks Canada for some time.
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Montreal should restrict police use of facial recognition technology: councillor
Montreal police said through a spokesperson they have no comment on the proposed motion but they follow all laws governing their operations and investigations.
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‘Unspecified’ outbreak declared at child care centre in Lindsay
All COVID-19 tests to date at the Compass Learning Centre in Lindsay have returned negative.
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Politicians welcome planned London, Ont., pharmaceutical facility with groundbreaking ceremony
ANVO Pharma Group plans to move its global headquarters to 2479 Bonder Rd. in London and develop the site into a 40,000-sq. ft facility.
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Controversial Stanley Park bike lane to be removed next weekend
The creation of a bike lane was highly controversial as advocates for seniors and people with disabilities argued it reduced accessibility in the park.
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Want to save a few bucks on groceries? Don’t shop online, experts say
If you're finding groceries more expensive, smart shoppers recommend using apps that can price-match items so you don't have to bring a flyer to the store.
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TTC testing ultraviolet light technology on vehicles to fight COVID-19
Toronto’s public transit agency is piloting the use of UV light to treat air circulating through its vehicles’ ventilation systems.
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Europe’s monitoring of U.S. presidential election shrinks drastically amid coronavirus
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has observed U.S. elections since 2002, will scale back plans to send as many as 500 observers to the U.S. to monitor the Nov. 3 presidential election to just 30.
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Sailing vessel TS Playfair makes Hamilton its new home
A Great Lakes youth sail training program is now tied up in Hamilton Harbour.
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Arrest made in Shuswap stabbing manhunt; Enderby suspect facing attempted murder
North Okanagan RCMP say an off-duty officer spotted Alexander Boucher, 36, in Coldstream on Friday morning.
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Fire crews battle blazes at 2 houses in northeast Calgary on Friday
At around 12:40 p.m., fire crews responded to reports of a house fire on Fallingworth Bay N.E., and 15 minutes later, officials said another fire was reported in the 500 block of 9A Street N.E.
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Damien Cox: If you love hockey, watch the Lightning and Stars battle for the Stanley Cup. Who knows when the NHL will be back
The bubble concept worked smoothly this time, but the NHL can’t ask players to do it again. The best the league can hope for is an exciting Stanley Cup final to leave fans with a good taste in their mouths — for whenever the game returns, Damien Cox writes.
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Firefighters begin to battle exhaustion alongside wildfires on U.S. West Coast
Firefighters trying to contain the massive wildfires in Oregon, California and Washington state are constantly on the verge of exhaustion as they try to save suburban houses, including some in their own neighborhoods.
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Man wanted on 2nd-degree murder charge thought to be in Winnipeg now in custody, RCMP say
Police issued an arrest warrant earlier this week for Rodney Cain Mcnabb, 22, in connection with a fatal shooting in Grand Rapids.
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Lego extends Facebook ad ban while spending resumes with rivals
The maker of the iconic coloured building blocks suspended its advertising on social media in July, joining a protest by some of the world’s biggest corporations against the failure of many platforms to block hateful and misleading content.
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Negotiations continue as Quebec home daycare workers set to strike Monday
Talks were expected to continue Friday evening and maybe even into Saturday. The federation has scheduled a news conference for Sunday.
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The pandemic has hurt Canada’s climate change plan. Now we need to get ‘aggressive,’ Ottawa says
In an interview with the Star, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said the pandemic has created delays, but that the government plans to present an “enhanced climate plan” before the next international summit on global warming next year.
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Ottawa will provide funds for housing if provinces step up with support services, minister says
Ahmed Hussen says he is “seriously looking” at a $4-billion proposal to help the homeless population through buying up vacant properties.
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Islanders rally to help community rocked by disappearance of teens at sea
People from across Prince Edward Island were doing what they could to support volunteers desperately searching for two 17-year-old boys missing.
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